During the hearing of the Petition filed by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) seeking the release of the funds approved by the Delhi Assembly for the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, on behalf of Delhi's Principal Secretary Finance, told the Supreme Court that it is a case where the Minister is filing a case against its own Secretary. He also submitted that there is a motive behind filing this Writ Petition.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi along with Advocate Shadan Farasat, appeared for GNCTD.

At the outset, Singhvi submitted, "This FY 2023–24, Rs. 982 crores already incurred, payable, bill done, work done... There are six times the Minister has written. If you know say, which I am sure they will say that we'll pay out of this current one."

A Bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud asked, "But now how can they pay out of 2023?"

Farasat responded, "That has lapsed. The Finance Commission.."

The Court asked Jethmalani to do some queries by the Finance department. "Take instructions, and whatever is payable, pay it out of your last year's funds," it suggested.

To this, the Senior Counsel responded, "But, may I just say one thing very quickly, I don't want to waste your Lordships time today, because it will require further hearing and I will take instructions as per what your Lordships have said. The preliminary issue here is, it is the DJB, it is the Board which actually makes the request. They have not even made the Board a party. This is now only a Ministerial request. This is a Minister saying that this has happened. We have replied to all the demands of the Minister.. The Board is not a party here. It is the Board that makes this requisition."

Jethmalani added, "In the High Court, the Board has filed an Application Affidavit; in the High Court, the matter is pending roughly on the same issues and we have given them whatever they wanted. The requisition of a loan or a grant in aid, as the case may be, because that's the way it is advanced by the Ministry, by the Finance Department, comes from the DJB. The Delhi Jal Board, the water Board. Its not the Minister who has any right in this. This is a case where the Minister is filing a case against its own secretary."

Singhvi submitted, "Yes!"

Jethmalani further submitted, "And the Secretary says the Finance Department has filed an Affidavit before the High Court."

The Bench also comprising of Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra, said, "Alright! We will give notice to the Delhi Jal Board. We'll find out from them what is due and outstanding."

Both the parties agreed to this.

"On the request of Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, we direct the engagement of the Delhi Jal Board as a party to these proceedings. Notice shall be issued to the Delhi Jal Board, returnable on next Wednesday (April 10)," the Court ordered.

The CJI said, "In the meantime, whatever is liable to be paid, make sure its paid. Ask them to verify and pay it over."

Jethmalani responded, "Yes! Yes! My Lord! I assure your Lordship, if there is anything they are liable to be paid we'll certainly pay."

Singhvi said, "Filing a Petition, there is no interest in filing the Petition.."

Jethmalani added, "There is a motive behind this Petition, I'll point it out to your Lord! I am not saying anymore today."

CJI said, "Alright! Wednesday."

Accordingly, the Court scheduled the matter for further consideration on April 10.

Pertinently, on April 1, the Court had issued notice to Delhi’s Principal Secretary (Finance) in AAP government's Writ Petition. The GNCTD had told the Court that a total of Rs 4578.15 crores had been received by the Delhi Jal Board for the Financial year 2023–24, inclusive of an amount of Rs 760 crores, which was received on March 31, 2024. However, an amount of Rs 1927 crore was not paid over. To this, the LG had submitted that it has nothing to do with the non-release of the balance amount of Rs 1927 crores, which has been approved by the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi.

Cause Title: Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi v. Office of Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi and Ors. [W.P. (C) No. 197/2024]